UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

As far as the eye can see : the shíshálh in their territory, 1791-1920 Merchant, Peter


The shíshálh of the southwest coast of Canada, for two hundred and twenty-five years, have faced the intense pressure of British, then Canadian colonial and state expansion. In the face of this continued onslaught they have neither ceded nor abandoned tems swiya (our world [shíshálh territory]). The length, intensity and ongoing nature of the colonial conflict on the west coast of Canada provides numerous examples of the role of structure in shaping the responses of colonized peoples to the colonial conflict. Specifically, an examination of how the relationship between the shíshálh and tems swiya conditioned the shíshálh response to the colonial conflict and in turn was itself transformed is critical to understanding the internal tensions within contemporary shíshálh society and their relationship with the non-shíshálh who reside within tems swiya. Exploring this question can be conducted through the analysis of the skwákwiyám (shíshálh oral traditions), archaeological, ethnographic, and historical records. These sources of data indicate that although the current condition of the shíshálh–tems swiya relationship has distinctly altered from that of the pre-contact era, it is no less legitimate; rather it represents the “indigenization of modernity,” ensuring shíshálh survival through the twenty-first century.

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